The TV in the living room blared.
“Hurricane Sandy has left tens of thousands homeless, millions without power, and has completely destroyed the Jersey Shore. Some are taking this to be a sign of the Mayan’s end of the world prediction. More reports are coming in of families giving up their homes, their possessions, and their lives to prepare for the end of 2012. Police have already stopped one attempt at a human sacrifice in the name of this cause…”
“That’s enough of that,” Cayden said, turning off the TV.
“Hey, I was watching that!” Amara, his roommate said. She was a petite 20-year-old, and as she looked at Cayden, her face betrayed her emotions. Her bright green eyes narrowed in indignation.
“We don’t need to get sucked in to all that crazy stuff.” Cayden stretched his arms. He was also 20 years old, with dark eyes and matching hair. Unlike Amara, he was tall, over six feet. They had met in the dorms their freshman year, and become close friends. After two years of studying together, going to the same parties, and helping each other hook up, they had decided they were comfortable enough as friends to try living together. “Besides, don’t you have a news meeting or something to go to?”
“Yeah, just a second.” Amara switched the TV back on. “I want to know more about what’s going on with these Maya predictions.” The screen panned over more images of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction—cities flooded, railroads washed away, and substations exploding. “Oh, never mind.”
“Always about the Mayans.” Cayden gently poked her in the ribs.
Amara’s phone vibrated, alerting her to a text message from Makenna, the editor-in-chief of The Eagle, the daily student newspaper where she worked. Where r u? “Shoot, I’ve got to go. See you later Cay!” Grabbing her bag, she ran out the door.
“About time you showed up,” Ace, the features editor, said. He was a big-boned guy, with close-cropped hair and a perpetual frown.
“Sorry, got caught up with something on the news,” Amara said, settling into a chair in the corner of the room. Ten people were crammed into an office the size of a closet, but the editors of The Eagle didn’t care. There was more camaraderie this way, which helped them get through their frequent all-nighters while everyone else at Laguna State enjoyed their time at college. Warm and sunny southern California made it easy to constantly party.
Ace snorted. “We’re supposed to be the news.”
Amara ignored him. After two years of being a staff writer and a couple months as the opinion editor, she had developed a thick skin. Or at least she was better at pretending to have one. She knew eventually she would have to work at being tougher, if she ever wanted to be a professional journalist. “Anyway I’ve got a story to pitch.”
“All right, let’s hear it,” Makenna said, pen ready.
“Well, you know how lots of people are going crazy over this end of the world stuff?”
“Allegedly—” Makenna winked.
“Yeah, so how about we write a feature about how it’s all bull? I mean, the last like ten predictions have proven not to be real, but people are still ruining their lives because of all the superstition. Plus now some people are trying to do human sacrifices?”
The room of people mumbled in agreement. They had all seen the news.
“It’s ridiculous how people are overreacting. I bet I could prove the Maya Calendar prediction is false.”
Ace huffed loudly. Makenna gave him a stern look, then turned to Amara. “How exactly would you approach it? There are tons of Maya stories out there already, so you’d need to be able to make yours stand out.”
Amara grinned. “My grandfather used to research the Maya. He figured out our family descended from the Maya, and I think I can use that to start. The story could be part exploration of my grandfather’s work, part investigative reporting. I’ll start doing some research, and get back to you on more details.”
“Sounds good,” Makenna said. “How soon can you have it?”
“Couple days? I’ll send you what I find and we can decide if it’s worth pursuing.”
“All right, let’s pencil it in the schedule. We can update it later. News meeting adjourned. Amara, get what you missed from Ace.”
Back at home, Amara went straight to her room.
“Where are you going?” Cayden asked.
“Gotta vlog!” she said, and shut the door. She opened her laptop and turned on the camera. After tinkering with the angle, she hit record.
“Hey guys, sorry for being MIA the past few days, but something big just happened. I’m getting my first feature story, well probably, and it’s going to be about…” she drummed her hands on the desk. “The end of the world! Or, more specifically, why the world will not be ending this December. Personally, I think the Maya Calendar is all a bunch of crap, and I want to prove it.
“I’m tired of all the depressing stories about people going crazy trying to save themselves before December 21. Just this morning I saw on the news a story about an attempt to sacrifice a human? It was—”
Amara shook her head, deciding it was better not to go into details. She didn’t want to add to the hype.
“Anyway, I’ll be logging all my research here, so stay tuned for all my exciting updates.”
“And post.” Amara uploaded the video, and then clicked on the stats page of her blog. Over fifty-thousand followers. She had been vlogging ever since her grandfather had committed suicide six years ago. What started as a deeply personal, cathartic project had quickly turned into a way to express her opinions. As she grew older, she had become more interested in how history shaped the world, and now spent her time researching and reporting her theories and analysis. Somehow she had found a niche and her vlog had caught on. Over the past year she had dabbled in Maya history, mostly looking at pictures of different ruins—her grandfather had been in Mexico, researching the Maya when he died. After the five-year anniversary of his passing, Amara had found herself becoming more and more curious about the strange circumstances surrounding his apparent suicide. He had been such a happy man, and she couldn’t understand what might have led him to take his own life.
He had always said he wished he had been an archaeologist, but it wasn’t until he retired from his accounting job that he had the time to explore other cultures. However, when Amara was a little girl, her grandfather pursued his passion as a hobby, starting with researching their family’s ancestry. He found out that somewhere down the line, they supposedly had ancestors who were Mayan, but Amara hadn’t cared at the time. Her parents had joked that it may have been their family who had predicted the end of the world in 2012, which had always frustrated Amara’s grandfather, because took his work seriously.
Satisfied, Amara closed her laptop and went to the living room to find Cayden.
“How was work?” Cayden asked, eyes glued to his own laptop.
Amara grabbed a banana and started peeling it. “All right. Ace was being a dick again, but I think I got my first big story.”
“Cool.” He didn’t bother to look up. Amara could hear the sounds of a cartoon.
“What are you up to? Don’t you have a midterm coming up?”
He grinned. “Yeah, I’m just taking a break.” He yawned. “Linguistics can be tiring. Besides, I’ve still got a couple days to study.”
“All right, I’ll leave you to it.”
Amara knew she needed to do some studying of her own, but she couldn’t resist returning to her room to check her vlog for comments. She was addicted. When she logged in though, she saw she had been hacked. Some of her content was deleted, and a strange box popped up on her screen. She felt her heart in her throat as she read the message.
Don’t write your story. It said. Stop before it’s too late.